Australia gifts Bureau of Immigration with state-of-the-art document examination equipment
Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) this month formally handed over three Video Spectral Comparators (VSC40) to the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration (BI). This is the latest boost in the two countries’ commitments to combat irregular migration, people smuggling, human trafficking and counter terrorism.
The VSC40 is a state-of-the-art digital imaging system for forensic examination of documents and passports. They will be installed in BI’s document laboratories in their Intramuros headquarters, in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, and at NAIA Terminal 3.
“The gift of this equipment demonstrates Australia’s continued commitment to partnership with the Philippines and reinforces our mutual commitment to the deepening bilateral ties and increased cooperation between our two countries,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said.
“Deployment of these VSCs is the next step in our efforts to improve border management capabilities. It will enable a proactive approach towards illicit border activities by improving the ability of BI to detect and mitigate document and identity fraud,” DIAC First Secretary Claire Forte said during handover ceremonies held at the BI headquarters.
The equipment is provided as part of the Regional Skills Development Program, funded under DIAC’s Regional Cooperation and Capacity Building Program. The VSCs are an upgrade to equipment initially provided to BI in 2004, which is still operational and can be redeployed to other locations.
An intensive partnership in document examination has been maintained by DIAC and BI from 2004, which has seen the development of document examination capability within BI that is recognized regionally. The Philippines has been active in forums tackling document examination in the region, and in 2009 co-hosted with Australia the Bali Process Workshop on Document Examination at the Border, which was held in Manila.
DIAC has sponsored officers from BI in pursuit of studies on forensic document examination in Australia, as well as posting its own officers to the Philippines to mentor BI document examiners through both on-the-job training and formal course work.
A Memorandum of Understanding for effective cooperation in migration management and border control was renewed between DIAC and BI in 2011 for a five-year period.
“Our partnership with Australia has resulted not only in the transference of skills and the development of self-sufficiency in the area of document examination, but has bolstered both our countries’ efforts in border management, especially against human trafficking and in countering terrorism, as we learn from each other. We remain committed to this effective cooperation toward providing better service to the Filipino and Australian peoples, and indeed to the world at large,” BI Commissioner Ricardo David said.